Design Hints

Dynamic Displays

Learn simple tricks to make the most of your collectibles displays.


Thanks to her wide range of collections, Bowling Green, Missouri, homeowner Kay S. Reading has become an expert at putting together groupings that maximize her treasures. "You can make a display out of anything," she says. "Just keep arranging it until it looks the way you want it to look." Here are some of her best design ideas, as seen in our July 2015 issue.

Reach for the Sky. Stack pieces one on top of the other, starting with larger items such as chests and trunks on the bottom and adding stools or boxes for a tower-like look. "If you run out of space around the perimeter of the room, start stacking things and head for the ceiling," Kay says.

Hang Up. Utilize unusual objects for wall-mounted hanging showcases. Kay uses everything from a men's tie rack to a hat-and-coat rack to part of a harness for showing off utensils and other small items in the kitchen.

Dress in Layers. Begin with a distinctive base -- a braided accent rug, a toolbox, a breadboard, etc. -- and build your grouping on top. Or, construct a background for a vignette with colorful artwork or shutters.

Make a Match. Look for relationships between the elements of your display. For example, group items sharing a color scheme -- blue pottery, for example. Or, gather collectibles in a common category, such as playthings or decor with a cabin motif.

Step to It. Employ stools, small benches, boxes and drawers to create different levels. Drawers can be tipped on their sides or stood on end to highlight one singular object or several small ones. Stack petite boxes and crocks on top of each other, nest bowls together, or turn a little breadboard into a makeshift lid for a crock so you can put something on top.

Written by Lisa Sloan
Photographed and styled by Franklin & Esther Schmidt